CONCORD, CA — This metal instrument is called a gangsa.
The gongs are native to the Kalinga people of the northern Philippines.
The American Center for Philippine Arts’ Herna Cruz-Louie is leading fellow musicians in rehearsal for an upcoming show by the Kariktan Dance Company.
As practice intensifies with just two weeks before showtime, the musicians are borrowing these instruments because at last Wednesday’s rehearsal — because Cruz-Louie’s original gangsa set was stolen.
Thieves smashed the window of fellow musician Major Julian’s car to get the gongs.
The musicians were heartbroken because the process getting the instruments from the Philippines was not easy.
“We asked as favors for people going back home to just visit family or for other reasons to just carry one gong at a time, and it took about a 9-10 month span to be able to do that, because it’s a set of 7 and they’re so heavy.”
“The window, the car…it’s fine. It’s really irritating. It can be replaced,” said Julian. “I was more concerned of the gongs. It’s like you said it takes so many resources just to get here. And you don’t just fly to Manila and then go to the shoe mart. You have to travel to go get it.”
A GoFundMe was set to help pay for its replacement; however, it reached its goal within seven hours of its posting.
“The outpouring of support that we received and how many shares we received on Instagram and Facebook was amazing and it was just overwhelming.”
This was the second Filipino dance company to experience theft in the Bay Area in the recent years.
Kaisahan of San Jose was also robbed of their costumes and instruments from their dance studio in 2016.
These dancers and musicians say that the gongs are more than just instruments.
They are essential in providing a connection to their heritage.
“It’s our connection. We learn these instruments here in the United States as Filipino-Americans and so, to be able to have these here is such a huge deal. And to be able to have dancers who perform to Filipino music.”
“It’s our voice for those who don’t have a voice. We use them to speak their history and bring here so others will know who they are and what they’re all about.”